A sympathetic redevelopment of the former site of the Elsecar Ironworks at Barnsley in Yorkshire has been announced, including among other attractions a new heritage railway, rail college, and outdoor events area.
As the site is a scheduled ancient monument, close liaison was needed with Historic England, and the plans have been carefully developed over the last two years after extensive public consultation as a legacy project of Barnsley Metropolitan Council's Heritage Action Zone partnership.
Included in the vision for the former ironworks is:
- A new heritage railway destination that includes a reconstructed 1849 Fitzwilliam locomotive to be powered by sustainable fuels;
- A new rail college and rail technology test track with the capacity to train over 400 students each year;
- Advanced engineering workshops designed to showcase the region's innovation;
- A ‘Cultural Canteen' and outdoor events and performance area, to be set against a backdrop of the ironworks furnaces and restored blast wall;
- An active Travel Hub and Cycle Hire, so that families and visitors who travel to Elsecar can explore the Elsecar Valley on foot and by bicycle.
The site is located on the east side of the current Elsecar Heritage Centre and its major indoor events space. Refurbished of the events space is planned for the next year with the benefit of funding already secured from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, through the Cultural Development Fund administered by Arts Council England.
Designs for the new buildings to be constructed on the ironworks site are based on the original Victorian furnace sheds. They will take the place of a replica railway station that was built in the 1990s, when the importance of the ironworks was not appreciated, and whose condition is deteriorating.
Before development takes place, a series of consultation events, activities, and special tours will take place early next year, when local residents and the public can share comment on the plans and how they should be taken forward.
As Elsecar is renowned as an international centre of coal mining and ironworking, and has many achievements to its name, the new development will enable that history to be made more widely known, and allow the wider innovation heritage of South Yorkshire to be celebrated.
Once complete. the new development would transform Elsecar and the impact it has Barnsley and the wider South Yorkshire communities, and result in the village becoming a national visitor destination.
Along with the redevelopment, the aim is to create jobs, skills, and life quality for South Yorkshire communities, and is closely aligned with Barnsley's 2030 vision as ‘a place of possibilities'.
The new development has been costed at around £25m to be completed, although it may be phased as funding becomes available, for which options are being explored to see what . funding may be available.
Further information about the development can be found at www.elsecar-heritage.com/forging-ahead
Cllr Sir Stephen Houghton CBE Leader, Barnsley Council said, “We're determined to transform this remarkable historic site, previously the home of Elsecar Heritage Railway, into something which is unique, sustainable, and will thrive long into the future.
“This will include a new heritage railway destination, a rail college, advanced engineering workshops, outdoor performance and events area, public spaces, a café-restaurant and more.
“The redevelopment of the Ironworks site and heritage railway will not happen straight away. We need to secure funding and it will take time to deliver, but this vision is the starting point for something very special for Elsecar.”